Recently, BlackRock which offers 48 ETFs in Canada under the iShares label announced that it will be acquiring Claymore Canada, a vendor of 34 exchange-traded funds. The press release accompanying the announcement said that the transaction enhances BlackRock’s ability to “deliver excellence in innovation, quality and choice”.
According to the Canadian ETF Association, iShares is already the dominant player in the ETF sector with a market share of 67%. Claymore currently occupies the #2 slot with a market share of 15.5%. When the deal is consummated (unfortunately, it is likely a question of “when”, not “if” the deal will be approved, because BlackRock can probably successfully argue that its market share of the overall fund business is fairly small), BlackRock’s market share will become even more dominant at 82.5%. Or look at it this way: iShares currently has 13 out of the 20 largest ETFs by assets under management. After acquiring Claymore, BlackRock will have 18 out of the top 20 ETFs.
It is true that other ETF vendors are competing strongly. In 2011, BMO was virtually tied with iShares in net ETF creations at 33%. Claymore occupied the #3 spot with 20%. Combining iShares with Claymore (Jon Chevreau cleverly dubbed the combination “ClayShares”) would mean BlackRock would have more than 50% of the 2011 ETF sales to go along with its dominant position in the ETF landscape. It is hard to see how the creation of a virtual monopoly will deliver innovation and choice for ETF investors.